Netflix has a series called “13 Reasons Why” which is about a high school girl who commits suicide and leave a series of cassette tapes for the people in her life who contributed to her suicide. Each tape covers another person or event that led to her decision. The series has been controversial with many people praising its frank look at a difficult subject, but many more thinking it exploits a growing epidemic of suicides by teenage girls. I’ve heard there have been copycat suicides with girls leaving cassette tapes after taking their own lives.
I found the series to be extremely compelling.And the lessons are not just for teenaged girls. To me, it did a fantastic job of exploring the notion of interdependence. In the West, we tend to value independence. We think of ourselves as islands. We are all responsible for our own actions and our own actions only. We don’t owe anything to anyone and we don’t expect anything from anyone. We would tend to look at someone committing suicide and saying “That was her choice.” The opposite extreme is dependence or co-dependence where we don’t take responsibility for our own actions. Buddhism, which I think is the middle path and the right one, talks about interdependence. There is no true separate self. We are all the results of causes and effects that go back to before our birth. We do not choose our genetics. We do not choose our parents (on a human level). We are influenced by our surroundings and the actions of others that help shape us.
As we explore Hannah’s life in the series, we see how the actions of others impact Hannah’s life. Even things they found to be insignificant are monumental in the life of a girl who is struggling on all fronts. In her frail state brought on by the accumulation of a series of injuries, it didn’t take much to keep pushing her down the path. it’s not one action that causes Hannah’s suicide. There isn’t one thing that we can point to and say “Had this happened differently, she would still be here.” But, each action, including Hannah’s own, put her one more step down that path that she did not choose independently. Ultimately, the conclusion I drew is that it wasn’t one person who killed Hannah, not even Hannah herself. It was a community event. And Hannah’s death didn’t impact just Hannah or her family. It impacted everyone who had a hand in it, and beyond.
My friend Deb tells me I’m a type 9 on the Enneagram. Type 9s have trouble drawing boundaries where we end and others begin. I still remember being a kid and realizing that, in this world, I am a separate being. I hated it. I felt lonely and isolated. All of my life, I have had the feeling that I wanted to “merge” with other people. Here at the age of 56, I’m finally running across this concept that we are all One. I’m reading the third Conversations with God book now and God is explaining to Neale Donald Walsch the concept of Divine Dichotomy. Divine Dichotomy is the idea that two seemingly mutually exclusive things can both be true. This makes perfect sense to me. Free will and predetermination seem to be mutually exclusive. Yet, I fully believe in both divine providence and the fact that we make very real choices. In the book, God is explaining the concept of Divine Dichotomy as it relates to us all being One and there truly being only one soul, yet we manifest as separate souls and God experiences Godself through each of us, as we think of ourselves as separate from each other. When we take an action, it doesn’t impact just the “other” person, but in a very real sense, it comes right back to us because one a deeper level, we are all One.
Some say we are on the verge of faith and science merging and a deeper realization of who and what we truly are. If this happens, it will change everything. When a critical mass of people accepts that everyone is not only my neighbor, but is me, how can we go to war? How can we ignore poverty? How can we let people live without health insurance? Will this happen in our lifetimes? It could.